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US drug trial opens for Mexico ex-security head

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MEXICO CITY — The person who was as soon as Mexico’s prime safety official and in command of preventing the drug cartels goes on trial Tuesday on expenses he accepted tens of millions of {dollars} in bribes in change for serving to the highly effective Sinaloa Cartel transfer medication and its members keep away from seize.

Genaro García Luna was greatest generally known as the mumbling, tough-looking former safety secretary beneath ex-President Felipe Calderón who spearheaded the bloody battle on cartels between 2006 and 2012.

United States prosecutors allege he was so brazen he accepted tens of tens of millions of {dollars}, usually stuffed in briefcases. The proof towards him contains pay stubs, although whether or not they had been from official jobs, non-public sector consultancy, cartel funds or different bribes is unclear.

They are saying he continued to dwell off his ill-gotten proceeds even after he moved to the USA, the place he was arrested in 2019, although the protection says he was a official businessman. Jury choice was scheduled to start Tuesday.

Ultimately, the case may reveal the internal workings of how Mexican cartels have been capable of function so brazenly for thus lengthy: by bribing Mexican police and army proper as much as the highest ranks.

“For many years, Mexico’s political elite, of all events, has sought by any means to have safety ministers, generals, police commanders, inside secretaries and high-ranking officers tried and imprisoned in Mexico … all that to keep away from them giving info on the ties between the drug cartels and politicians,” stated Mexican safety analyst David Saucedo. “Garcia Luna’s trial in the USA breaks with that sample.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has welcomed the trial anticipated to solid gentle on corruption within the administration of Calderón, who the president accuses of getting robbed him of the presidency in 2006.

However López Obrador himself fought tooth and nail to keep away from a U.S. trial of former protection secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos on related expenses in 2020, at one level threatening to kick DEA brokers out of Mexico except the final was returned, which he was.

The trial begins simply days after U.S. President Joe Biden met with López Obrador in Mexico Metropolis. The 2 governments pledged continued cooperation towards the drug cartels, particularly towards the scourge of the artificial opioid fentanyl, which contributed to greater than 107,000 drug overdose deaths within the U.S. in 2021. López Obrador scrapped the civilian federal police power that García Luna as soon as led and put the army in command of a lot of the nation’s safety.

“It’s not the identical to place a civilian PAN official on trial, as it’s to place a protection secretary on trial, when your entire nationwide safety coverage rests on the armed forces,” stated Ana Vanessa Cárdenas, a global safety analyst on the Anahuac College, referring to Calderón’s conservative Nationwide Motion Get together.

García Luna has pleaded not responsible to drug trafficking expenses and a unbroken felony enterprise. He may face many years in jail if convicted.

What he’ll face in a Brooklyn courtroom is a parade of presidency witnesses, together with high-level cartel members, of a sort not seen in Brooklyn since Sinaloa boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was convicted there in 2019 and sentenced to life in jail. Some accusations towards García Luna surfaced on the Guzmán trial.

“Whereas holding public workplace, (García Luna) used his official positions to help the Sinaloa Cartel, a infamous Mexican drug cartel, in change for multimillion-dollar bribes. At trial, the federal government expects that quite a few witnesses, together with a number of former high-ranking members of the Sinaloa Cartel, will testify about bribes paid to the defendant in change for defense,” U.S. Legal professional Breon Peace wrote in a courtroom submitting final week.

“In change for these bribes, the defendant supplied the Sinaloa Cartel with, amongst different issues, protected passage for its drug shipments, delicate regulation enforcement details about investigations into the cartel, and details about rival drug cartels,” Peace wrote. “These funds allowed the cartel at instances to obtain warnings upfront of regulation enforcement efforts to apprehend cartel members and to permit cartel members to be launched if arrested.”

Earlier than convicting Guzmán in 2019, jurors in his New York trial heard former cartel member Jesús Zambada testify that he personally made no less than $6 million in hidden funds to García Luna, on behalf of his older brother, cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

The cartel is now believed to be run by Zambada and no less than three of Guzmán’s sons, one in every of whom was arrested earlier this month on an extradition request from the USA.

García Luna isn’t the primary prime Mexican official arrested for involvement with drug traffickers. Gen. Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo was made Mexico’s drug czar by President Ernesto Zedillo in 1996. He was arrested the next 12 months after it was found he was dwelling in a luxurious house owned by the chief of the Juarez cartel, Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

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